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Canning Vinegar Pickles: A Resource Guide

Canning is a method of food preservation in which food is processed, sealed and stored in an airtight container.

a brief History of canning

  • In 1795, the French were desperate to create a solution to feed the military during the French Revolution

  • The French government offered 12,000 Francs to any inventor who could devise a cheap way to store large quantities of food

  • In 1809, Nicholas Appert, a French brewer and confectioner, discovered that food cooked inside of a jar did not spoil until the seal was broken, thus creating a method of storing food in glass jars.

  • His original design included glass jars sealed with a cork reinforced with wax and wire, then boiled for a certain amount of time. Very similar to the process we still use today!

Fun fact: what came first- The can or the can opener?

Iron cans began as a niche item and rose in popularity in the 1840's. The manufacturers suggestion for opening was to simply use a hammer and a chisel.

It wasn't until 1858 that Ezra J. Warner patented the first can opener- nearly 40 years after the invention of the can!


Now lets get started

You will need:

  • Veggies to pickle (beets, cucumbers, beans, etc.)

  • Vinegar

  • Sugar

  • Salt

  • Jar lifter

  • Pot to boil water

  • Measuring spoons

  • Knife + cutting board

Safety first!

Types of canned goods

Its important to have a knowledge of the pH scale and level of acidity of the foods you are canning to prevent botulism

High acid

Low acid

Fruits and fruit juices


Jams and Jellies


Pickles and relishes




Chutneys and pie fillings




Tomatoes and figs (citric acid or lemon juice can be added before canning to acidify)

Soups and mixtures of low and high acidic foods (spaghetti sauce- meat, veg. and tomatoes)

You cannot see or taste botulism, a rare and serious reaction that can occur when low acidic foods are not properly sterilized at temperatures between 240° and 250°. High acidic foods can safely be processed in a boiling water canner.

Scientifically tested recipes

  • USDA updated canning safety guidelines in 1989, which are still considered safe today. Any recipes written prior to 1989 should be cross-referenced with a modern recipe.

  • The Ball-Kerr website and National Center for Home Food Preservation have hundreds of recipes written to be both safe and delicious.

  • Accurate measurements- In water bath canning, it is extremely important to have accurate measurements for your recipe and a scientifically tested recipe that will be shelf-stable for home canning.

The process


  • First, you want to gather supplies and check recipes that may call for soaking produce in brine a day before pickling, so plan ahead!

  • Use quality ingredients

  • Make sure your equipment is in working order: inspect glassware for cracks, only use new lids to ensure proper sealing

Time to can!

  1. Wash your jars, lids, and bands in hot soapy water, thoroughly rise, then boil in water for 5-10 minutes.

  2. Wipe rims of jars to clear off debris

  3. Simply follow the recipe for the foods that you have chosen, i.e pickles, cut, combine with brine ingredients in jars.

  4. Leave head space

  • The amount of space inside the lid and the top of the food or its liquid is important!

  • Usually: 1/4" jellied fruit products, 1/2" fruits, tomatoes and pickles, 1" to 1-1/4" low acid foods.

5. Properly seal jars and submerge in warm water, place lid on water bath and bring water twater to rolling boil. Begin processing time.

6. When time is complete, shut off heat, remove lid, and allow jars to rest for 5 minutes.

7. Remove jars from canner and set upright on a towel to prevent breakage.

8. Leave jars undisturbed for 12-24 hours. DO NOT retighten bands.

After canning

  • Cans should make popping sounds as they start cooling off, this can take minutes or hours.

  • Once cans have completely cooled and rested, test the seal by removing the metal band and gently lifting the jar up by just the lid. If sealed properly, the lid will not open.

  • When storing pickles in your pantry, it is recommended to store without metal bands.

  • Make sure you write the date on your jar so you can keep track of when it must be consumed!

  • Keep your home-canned foods in a cool, dry, dark place. If canned properly, they can last up to 18 months on a shelf in your pantry!



My jar didn't seal! what do i do?

○ If a lid does not seal within 24 hours after processing, the product must be

  • Reprocessed immediately,

  • Stored in the refrigerator and used within a few days, or

  • Placed in a proper freezer container and frozen.

○ To safely reprocess a product

■ Remove the food from the jar. If it was hot-packed, reheat the food. Pack it into a clean, hot jar. Allow the correct headspace for the type of food being canned. Place a new lid on the jar. Reprocess the product using the correct processing method and follow the entire processing time as recommended by an up-to-date recipe from a reliable source.

why is my pickling liquid cloudy?

○ Could be your choice of salt or minerals in hard water, which are both generally safe.

○ If those two have been ruled out, it could also be due to improper canning and should be discarded.

why aren't my pickles crisp?

○ Poor quality cucumbers may lack crispness. Choose high-quality cucumbers and use them within 24 hours of harvest.

○ Use only pickling cucumbers; other varieties may be good choices for relishes or chutneys.

○ Use a crisping agent such as Ball® Pickle Crisp® Granules

why are the garlic cloves discolored?

○ Using immature garlic can cause this problem but garlic and pickles are still safe to eat. Cure immature garlic bulbs for 2-4 weeks at 70°F.

○ A chemical reaction between the pigments in the garlic with the iron, tin or aluminum in a reactive cooking pot, hard water or water pipes can occur. Garlic and pickles remain safe to eat. Use soft water.

○ Garlic may naturally have more blue pigment, and this may become more evident after pickling. Pickles and garlic are safe to eat.

Have specific questions? Email Cian at or


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